Patriot Day services will be held in Wantagh and Seaford to honor local residents killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In Seaford, a candle-lighting ceremony will take place Friday at 7 p.m., at Seaford High School. Wantagh American Legion Post 1273 will hold its service and ceremony on Sunday at 10 a.m., at the Legion’s Post, 3484 Park Ave. in Wantagh.
In Seaford, Patriot Day will take place on the 14th anniversary of the attacks, at 7 p.m., in front of the high school.
Lynda Schachner, a member of the Seaford High School 9/11 Memorial Committee, said the ceremony will begin with a procession in front of the school, led by the Nassau County Police Honor Guard, followed by the NCPD Pipes and Drums and uniformed personnel from the Seaford, Wantagh and New York City fire departments, and the Freeport and New York City police departments. Local Scout troops will also be included in the procession. The Honor Guard will take a position in front of the Seaford High School 9/11 Memorial, and the ceremony will begin, Schachner said.
Honored guests will include family members of lost Seaford High School alumni as well as officers of numerous community organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Seaford Fire Department, the Seaford Historical Society, the Lions and Kiwanis clubs, the Seaford Wellness Committee, members of the Seaford Public Library, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Seaford United Methodist Church, Maria Regina Parish and St. William the Abbot Church.
Speakers will include U.S. Rep. Peter King, a spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, Sweeney, Superintendent of Seaford Schools Brian Conboy, the Rev. Robert L. Hayden of St. William and the Rev. Ronald Klose of Our Redeemer. The Rev. Frank Nelson of Maria Regina Church, along with the Rev. Steven Knutsen from the Seaford Methodist Church, will ring the bell.
Remarks will be made by FDNY firefighter Ken Haskell of Ladder Company 175, and the brother of fallen firefighters Tommy and Timmy Haskell.
Jeremy Riddle, a New York City firefighter with Engine Company 332, will perform a musical tribute dedicated to those who died in the attacks. The Seaford High School band will perform the national anthem, and the Seaford High School Honors Chorale will sing “God Bless America.” A candle-lighting ceremony will follow.
Refreshments will be served in the auditorium lobby following the ceremony, courtesy of Starbucks and the 9/11 Committee.
Finally, Patriot Day is also a National Day of Service and Remembrance, and the 9/11 Seaford High School Committee is encouraging school clubs and individuals to volunteer to serve the community and country. Last year, more than 400 Commitments to Service from individuals and community groups were collected. Over the past 14 years, the committee has presented 71 Patriot Award scholarships, totaling $160,000, to graduating seniors who have volunteered their time and honored others for their community service.
Additionally, the Seaford High School 9/11 Committee has also selected 36 Honorary Patriot Award recipients from the community since 2002 who “represent the spirit and lives of our five alumni,” Schachner said.
In the same spirit of giving, the Seaford High School 9/11 Committee provides a “gift reflective of Sept. 11 to an organization or group,” Schachner explained. This year the committee will donate books promoting community service to the Seaford Public Library. “Since its inception, the 9/11 Memorial Committee has received not only financial support but also moral support from so many people,” Schachner said. “The success of their efforts is the 9/11 Seaford High School Memorial, a permanent tribute to our five Seaford High School alumni who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.”
John Sottnik, third vice commander of the Wantagh American Legion, said its Sept. 11 ceremony is being held on the Sunday after Patriot Day because post leaders felt that a weekend ceremony would afford a better opportunity for schoolchildren and those who have to work to participate in the remembrance ceremony. “The anniversary date of 9/11 is so burned into our memories,” Sottnik said. “There are few among us who did not know someone who was a direct casualty of this horrific act or was not profoundly affected by the terror of that day.”
He added that the Wantagh American Legion always holds its Sept. 11 ceremony on the second Sunday of September.
The ceremony, which is expected to be approximately a half hour long, will open with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Post Commander Ken Kelly. American flags will be presented, and Kelly will speak. A prayer from the post chaplain will follow, and local dignitaries will also offer their thoughts and prayers for those who died. Those dignitaries are expected to include State Sen. Michael Vendetto, Assemblyman David McDonough and Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney.
Representatives from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Boy Scouts and the Wantagh Fire Department will also be on hand. Other community groups are expected to attend as well, Sottnik said.
“We will read the names of the people from Wantagh who perished and toll the bell for each victim,” he said, adding that the playing of “Amazing Grace” and a 21-gun salute will follow.
The ceremony will conclude with a presentation of wreaths by local organizations. Then there will be the playing of taps and the flag will be retired. Light refreshments will be served after the ceremony.
“We urge all the organizations in town as well as community members to attend this ceremony,” said Sottnik. It will take place rain or shine.